French president offers historical autonomy to Corsica

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Corsican flag in front of houses and mountains in Central Corsica.

French president Emmanuel Macron, in his address to the Corsican Regional Assembly in Ajaccio, put forward a constitutional proposal aimed at establishing autonomy for Corsica while maintaining its connection to the French state.

The Corsican populace held its breath as President Macron addressed the Regional Assembly on Wednesday. Macron presented a constitutional text to Corsica’s elected representatives, envisioning autonomy for the island without severing ties with the central government. “It will not be autonomy against the State, nor autonomy without the State, but autonomy for Corsica and within the republic“, the French president declared. This distinctive proposition followed months of negotiations between the government and local political leaders.

These discussions had been instigated by a surge of violence on the island in 2022, triggered by the death of pro-independence activist Yvan Colonna, who was attacked in Arles prison while serving a life sentence for the 1998 assassination of Corsican prefect Claude Erignac in Ajaccio.

Macron confirmed that Corsica is deeply rooted in France and within the Republic. He pledged to present a constitutional and organic text for approval within six months to Corsica’s elected representatives. This text would grant them the authority to establish standards on various matters or transfer powers, subject to oversight by the Council of State and the Constitutional Council. The French President also spoke about incorporating Corsica into the constitution and recognizing the island’s unique characteristics. He proposed improved education in the Corsican language and the establishment of a public education service to promote bilingualism.

Meanwhile, Corsican nationalists, who control the Corsican Assembly, are demanding their own legislative authority, Corsican residency status, co-official status for the Corsican language, and recognition of the Corsican people in the Constitution. On the other hand, the island’s right-wing favours adapting French laws to Corsica’s specific attributes but rejects the idea of separate resident status or co-official language status.

Before proposing autonomy, Macron assessed the government’s performance in Corsica, emphasizing efforts to combat crime and organized crime, as well as advancements in healthcare. He highlighted substantial investments, such as €171 million for Ajaccio Hospital and a €500 million injection into environmental and infrastructure projects under the Transformation and Investment Plan for Corsica.

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